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Regarding Purgatories

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Album Review

The 5uu's recorded intermittently over the years for labels like Cuneiform Records and ReR until returning in 2000 with Regarding Purgatories. While credited to both Dave Kerman and the 5uu's, the Cuneiform CD is primarily a solo vehicle for composer and multi-instrumentalist Kerman, who wrote all the music and performs much of it on overdubbed guitars, keyboards, drums, bass, vocals, and noisy effects. Regarding Purgatories is an intriguing CD that should appeal to many fans of the European RIO groups and their spinoffs, particularly the Art Bears, a post-Henry Cow trio featuring guitarist Fred Frith, drummer Chris Cutler, and vocalist Dagmar Krause. The recording has a dark and Gothic mood similar to the Art Bears and early King Crimson. Kerman favors dense constructions with layers of distorted guitars and keyboards driven by martial drumbeats and unconventional percussion. Irregular melodies and skewed rhythms are interspersed with sinister drones and chants and embellished with buzzing, clanking, scraping, and other abrasive sounds. Not exactly a walk in the park, Regarding Purgatories is rather heavy going at times but still compelling by virtue of its sheer sonic inventiveness. However, while admiring Kerman the composer and arranger, listeners may be somewhat less enamored by Kerman the lyricist. The lyrics on Regarding Purgatories suggest universal themes of fate, loneliness, and alienation but often border on impenetrability. References to Drachma, Epidavros, and the Gordian Knot are scattered about. Perhaps the wordsmithing is an elaborate put-on, all "mumbo jumbo" as the disconnected chatter of "To Fall on Deaf Ears" suggests. This song features vocals distorted by electronic processing into an unintelligible metallic snarl, recalling "21st Century Schizoid Man" from King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King. Actually, placing the emphasis back on the keyboards, guitars, drums, and other instruments by disguising the voices and obliterating the words is not a half-bad idea. One could undoubtedly spend hours musing about the allusive and elusive lyrics of Regarding Purgatories; some listeners may prefer to let the music speak for itself.

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Regarding Purgatories, Dave Kerman / 5uu's
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